Monday, February 02, 2015

United Methodist Glass 2: The great west window

This most likely will be the last United Methodist Church-related post for a while. But then you never know --- the East Park meeting I'd planned to write about Tuesday has been postponed, today, because of the snow. On the other hand, I'd like to revisit Waynick Cemetery before writing about the Waynick window --- but anyone familiar with that little cemetery out southwest of town (also known as Holmes) also knows it's not an especially good place to visit when there's lots of snow on the ground (and the roads).

The great west window at First United Methodist initially appears almost identical to its counterpart in the south front of the church, but the panels have another set of sponsors, two specific and two more general.

The most southerly panel is devoted "To the memory of M. Rizer," hardly a familiar name in Chariton. If you know where to look in the Chariton Cemetery, you can find a tiny headstone also inscribed "M. Rizer," with no dates and nothing to indicate gender or relationship.

"M" stood for "Michael," and Michael Rizer was a skilled carpenter, born during 1813 in Virginia, who arrived in Chariton during 1865 most likely because his daughter, Mary, had settled here with her first husband, Dr. Henry Jay, during 1860. In his 50s, his services were much in demand and he was mentioned in newspaper reports in connection at least one of his projects, the Gasser Building, now housing Sportsman's Bar on the south side of the square.

Mary had rather bad luck with husbands. Dr. Jay died in 1868 and her second husband, Capt. William L. Robison, during 1883. She buried them side-by-side and when her father, Michael, died ca. 1890 she buried him on the same lot. Both husbands have equally uninformative tombstones.

On Feb. 2, 1885, Mary married as her third husband, Benjamin Franklin Bates, builder of the legendary Bates House hotel. Bates served on the 1898-1900 building committee for the new Methodist Episcopal Church, and this probably was a factor in the decision to include in it a window in memory of Michael.

Mary herself died Feb. 17, 1905 --- unexpectedly in Chicago where the couple were visiting. B.F. Bates brought her remains back to Chariton and buried them near near her first and second husbands behind a small stone inscribed only "M.H.B" for "Mary Hamilton Bates."

The middle panels of the west window are dedicated more generally, perhaps funded by consolidating smaller memorial contributions. The second panel is in memory of  "our Christian Fathers."

The third panel is dedicated to the memory of "our Christian Mothers."

The final panel was installed "In memory of my parents (by) A.M. Wheeler" and that inscription has the effect of memorializing Mr. Wheeler rather than his parents, who are not named.

Armstead Mason Wheeler (1840-1912) was an Ohio native and Civil War veteran who became a prominent Chariton-area farmer. He was serving as a Lucas County supervisor when the new Lucas County Courthouse was built in 1893-94 --- and that distinction was mentioned in his obituary.

His parents, whom the window panel memorializes, were Samuel Davis Wheeler (1810-1897) and Elizabeth (Matthews) Wheeler (1817-1900). The couple, natives respectively of Virginia and Ohio, married during 1834 in Ohio and brought their family west to Lucas County during 1856, settling first in Liberty Township, then moving during 1873 to a farm in Whitebreast Township, nearer Chariton. Samuel was an attorney, too, served in the Iowa Legislature and, like his son, served several years as a Lucas County supervisor.

All of the Wheelers were long-time and consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

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